Stories of Survival: Surviving disease and ill health.
By Harriet, Editor-At-Large Australia
No 6. Polly & Pat
Please Note: As Polly and Pat are still very much alive and working in their communities I have to be purposely very vague about how and where they fit into my family tree. Their names are pseudonyms, but their stories are true. Please also note that the story of the Unfortunate Experiment mentioned below is now being publically revised so that the researchers and doctors come up smelling of roses and the experiences of such as Polly are denied to have happened.
Polly was one of those unfortunate women selected without her knowledge to be part of the Unfortunate Experiment when women with cervical changes were observed rather than treated to see if cancer did develop. But it was worse than just being watched. Their medical concerns about their bodies were denied and they were treated by psychiatrists because “there wasn’t anything wrong with them”. Eventually, as women died in large numbers this experiment was acknowledged, a Royal Commission was convened and Ethics Committees were developed to oversee research, so that this type of thing didn’t happen again.
In the meantime Polly had had eight surgeries removing growths varying in size from an orange to a football. Cancer was denied on all occasions. She was left in extraordinary pain and finally, by dint of locating and destroying her medical records which had horrendous comments by psychiatrists that prevented her from getting treatment, she finally got the treatment she needed to stop the growths. However, her ongoing pain left her addicted to pain killers. Finally, at age 48, she was able to get off the pain killers. She had had 30 years of extreme medical misadventure. Now at coming up to 50 years old and in the middle of the restructuring of the New Zealand economy in the 1980s, Polly had to start her adulthood.
The long and short of it was that Polly worked very hard, made some excellent financial investment decisions, and became financially stable in just ten years. She has established herself as a successful business woman. For privacy reasons, I won’t go into any more details.
Pat also had health problems. In the middle of the restructuring of the economy, Pat had a psychotic breakdown. Medical care of a sort was available, but given Polly’s experience with the psychiatric profession, Pat wasn’t having any of it. She decided to hand her life over to God. Now she was very aware that this decision could also be considered to be part of and evidence of her psychiatric instability, so she was very careful to keep within the usual accepted bounds of religiosity.
Pat would have vivid dreams, visions, hear voices and see things that she knew weren’t there for other people. She made sure that she always got up at the same time each day, organized the children’s breakfasts and lunches for school, did the washing and kept the housework up to a reasonable standard. In between times she went on a long and convoluted walk with God. As long as she thought of her experience as a walk with God, she felt reasonably at peace. If she thought of her experience as psychotic, her terror knew no bounds.
Her foundational belief was that there was nothing, no principalities or powers which would separate her from the love of God. So therefore, she didn’t need to fear the journey. She would dedicate her day over and over to God. When she heard voices, she carefully considered what they said. If it was rubbish, she would tell God that all she was getting was rubbish and would God please make the message sensible, if it was something she needed to hear. If the message was clear, she would measure it up against Galations 5:22. Did the message lead her onwards towards love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness? Through experience, she put aside the self-control portion, as she realized that she wasn’t yet at that stage of having good self-control. If the message wasn’t taking her in that direction, she treated the voice as she would a dream – it was to be taken symbolically, not literally.
Pat had six weeks of this journey. Over those six weeks she started to realize just how out of touch with her body she had been. She gained enormous insights into how she functioned and how she could improve her life, her relationships and her religious journey. By the end of that time she had let go of the idea of God that she carried. This experience of being with the One was so awesome, that she could no longer name God. Although she continued to attend church, the experience of walking with the One, with Love and Power was so great that she found the church petty, controlling and so negative she just carried herself lightly there, reducing her participation and following the path that God was leading her on.
Now 30 years later, Pat is still impacted by that journey. It was difficult at the time, deciding to forego medicine and the psychiatric approach. But her experience with God during that time and since has been a wonderful gift, not just to her personally, but to many others. Pat gave her permission for her story to be told.
For both Polly and Pat, their health situations were TEOTWAWKI. It was the end of the world as they had known it. Polly’s experience went on keeping her in poverty for 30 years until she managed to heal enough to take charge of her life and destroy her medical records. Pat’s world changed too, slowly to start with, but eventually hugely for the better.
Beans, bullets and band aids preps wouldn’t really have made a material difference to either of these two in their context at the time. Faith and hope were what pulled them through. However, if they were in a situation of high crime and, or, terror such as happen during war or social breakdown, then their approach might well have been different. Context is everything when facing a SHTF or TEOTWAKI event.
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